Oral History Transcript — Dr. Kenneth T. Bainbridge
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K. T. Bainbridge; March 16, 1977
ABSTRACT: Includes information on his pre-Harvard education and postdoctoral experience; pre-World War II work at Harvard with students and in building of the cyclotron; wartime work on radar in U.S. and Britain; move to the Manhattan Project and responsibility for Trinity Test site; return to Harvard and start of new cyclotron building.
Session I | Session II
Sopka:This is Katherine Sopka speaking. I am visiting today, the 16th of March, 1977, with Professor Kenneth Bainbridge. We are meeting in my office, in the Lyman Laboratory of Physics, since Professor Bainbridge is presently in the process of moving from his old office in Lyman to a new location in the Jefferson Laboratory. In the interest of compiling a history of the Physics Department in recent decades, Professor Bainbridge has kindly consented to share with me today his recollections and perspective on developments within the department since he joined it as an assistant professor in 1934. Professor Bainbridge, perhaps we can best begin by asking you to comment upon the circumstances surrounding your coming to Harvard.
Bainbridge:I was at MIT as an undergraduate, and then I had one graduate year in electrical engineering. During that year I took physics mainly with [Manuel] Vallarta and Hans Mueller, and then I was admitted to Princeton University for graduate work in the Physics Department at a time when Karl Compton and Dean Andrew Fleming West and Paul van Dyke were there. I completed work at Princeton in 1929, and then went to the Bartol Research Foundation in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, after I had looked at the possibility of going to MIT or going to Caltech as a National Research Council Fellow. At Bartol, I was there for two years as a National Research Council Fellow, and met Professor Street there and Dr. E.C. Stevenson. Tom Johnson was Assistant Director of the laboratory of which William Francis Gray Swann was Director. After two years there, as a National Research Council Fellow, Swann asked me to stay on as a Bartol Research Foundation Fellow. And then, after two years, I applied for a Guggenheim and went to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. While there, I received an offer of a position at MIT, and another offer from Harvard University. I believed, although I’ve never discussed this with Professor Street, that he had suggested my name to the Department, and I remember seeing Harlow Shapley over there when he made a trip to Cambridge and interviewing him about the possibility of coming to Harvard. I must say I enjoyed it there. Rutherford was very kind to me, and I had the pleasure of meeting Cockcroft, and Blackett, and J.J. Thompson, among other people. After that year was over, actually fifteen months, a somewhat trying time because the baloney dollar came along at that time [laughter], and letters of credit dropped by 30-40%, something like that, so I decided to come to Harvard, and arrived here around September 1934, as an assistant professor. I had been four years out from my PhD, and started work on mass spectroscopy, which was aided greatly by the kindness of Professor Street and Professor Harry Mimno, who had, while I was in England, helped put through the shop here a design for a new type of mass spectrograph, which I had designed in England, and shipped the drawings to this country. Street and Mimno looked after them through the shop, so that I started off fairly rapidly in research, thanks to their saving me a good many months of work. The other possible job — I’d had an offer —was from Cornell, Professor [R.C.] Gibbs, but it wasn’t really a job offer. He would say, “How would you like to come to Cornell? Of course, we don’t really have the money now, but we are thinking of you” [laughter] and that sort of stuff which doesn’t increase your confidence too much in a place as a place to work.
Sopka:You came to Harvard just about the time that President Conant was taking office as head of the university. Is that right?
Bainbridge:Yes. I remember with interest reading an account in Time, a copy of which I still have, of Conant and his plans for Harvard, and how he was going to see there was proper housing for the faculty, and that sort of thing. So he was here a year ahead anyway, and then the fall that I came, Professor Van Vleck and Professor Furry came that fall. Street had come a year or two earlier.
Sopka:There were several new faces in the department.
Bainbridge:There were three new faces that fall in the department. And although I had had essentially no contact with anybody here except Street, the impressive thing to me was how kind people were to a young assistant professor coming with a wife and an eight-month old son arriving on the scene.
Sopka:A lot of problems in getting settled.
Bainbridge:The Saunders, Margaret and Ted Saunders, [Edwin C.] Kemble, Olive and Percy Bridgman, Katherine and Otto Oldenberg, the Chaffees, Leon Chaffee and his wife, G.W. Pierce — everybody was so very helpful and friendly to a new youngster coming into the department, which eased the way a great deal.
Sopka:Who was it who handled the actual making of the offer to you? Was it Lyman or was it Saunders who —?
Bainbridge:Saunders was Chairman of the Department, and so it was his asking. Of course, one of the great friends here was Blanche Woodward, who was the secretary of the Department, Saunders’ secretary, and ran the office in the far corner of Jeff, actually, where it is now, today, in that office there.
Sopka:It’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed.
Bainbridge:Yes. Well, that was the story here. I think the department had had sort of a traumatic experience in losing Slater three or four years before, I guess 1930 or ’31. And so an unofficial treaty had been set up between Harvard and Tech so there wouldn’t be any raiding of people, and this lasted until well into the ‘60s, maybe into the 1970’s before there was any raiding one way or the other.
Sopka:That’s interesting. I hadn’t realized that. I know that Slater did continue to give a course here for a couple of years after he was officially down at MIT.
Bainbridge:Kemble, of course, would know this story, and Oldenberg. But I think that Conant had the idea of spending more effort in the direction of nuclear research than in the direction of spectroscopic work where already there was a strong group in Saunders (Russell-Saunders coupling), and Oldenberg, and Kemble (in some theoretical work in quantum mechanics in a report he had written, I think, for the National Research Council), Van [Vleck] being very close to such things, and with Franzo Crawford also. And of course, the man who was there who was well ahead of his time was Curry Street as a research leader in cosmic ray research, and this was just the most exciting time from ‘34 to ‘37, where he and Stevenson, Young, and Woodward, and other associates were working towards the discovery of the muon, the mu-meson, in competition with some very strong competition: Blackett, who went wrong on this, and [Carl] Anderson and [Seth] Neddermeyer, who did a superb job, but did not really identify the particle as Professor Street did when he got essentially the charge-to-mass ratio of it. I have a letter from Cockcroft discussing Blackett’s thoughts on this thing, asking me to talk to Street and let Cockcroft know where Street was. That ought to be someplace in this record. I think that’s really very interesting.
Sopka:I see. Is that letter still in your possession, or have you deposited it at the —?
Bainbridge:I meant to bring it in and have a Xerox made for you. It’s going to be deposited, yes, but it’s very interesting. Street was on the right track, and did the things which really identified the particle first before anybody else got the idea. And this opened up the whole field of intermediate mass particles, mesons, hyperons, what have you, which came along so rapidly after 1947 — it took a long time. Well at that time there was no Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences: G.W. Pierce, Mimno, King later.
Bainbridge:Yes, Chaffee, of course. I must not forget Chaffee and his wife who were closer to the Physics department, I think, than any of the others in that group. And of course, Paul Donaldson was working in photography and collaborated with G.W. Pierce on photographs of his ultrasonic work with insects and so on. And it was a very interesting time. And then a few years later there was a split-up, and Chaffee belonged to both departments. I think Mimno did too, but I’m not sure.
Sopka:Yes, I believe that Mimno remained a member.
Bainbridge:Mimno had put a great deal of effort into the design of the new building, the present Lyman Laboratory of Physics. When I first came, there was an enormous amount of empty space on the fourth floor, and so we had a ping pong table up there.
Sopka:You mean up on this level where we are now?
Bainbridge:Yes, across the hall from here. And at that age, when you’re young, and everything is going well in research, Street and Stevenson and I and others would relax sometimes and have a half hour of ping pong in the afternoon [laughter]…
Sopka:That’s a good idea.
Bainbridge:…which was a habit we had gotten into maybe at the Bartol Research Foundation. But life was very simple, less complex. There were fewer students by far than we’ve got now. There may have been twelve students in all in the Physics Department.
Bainbridge:Graduate students, yes. Among undergraduates we had tutorial work. And I remember a few years when I was the Chairman of the Board of Tutors, which meant you had to help organize examinations, particularly the final examination of the students in their senior year, and organize who tutored whom and that sort of thing. And I don’t think anybody particularly cared for it, because under the rules of the game, you were not allowed to tutor a student in any subject in which courses were given. Seeing as how the Department was conscientious in trying to give courses in anything of real interest, it didn’t improve these tutorial hours too much. But I do remember with pleasure when A.C. Helmholz, Carl Helmholz, who was Chairman at Berkeley years later, and was a Henry Fellow at Cambridge… I guess he got his PhD at Berkeley… I remember tutorial work with him was a pleasure. There he went into an experimental study of track plates years before track plates were as fancy as they were in 1946 and 1947 when Powell and Occhialini used them for discovering the pi meson.
Sopka:He did this as an undergraduate?
Bainbridge:As an undergraduate, as a little research. And we got plates which are impregnated with boron and lithium salts, and we got some slow neutrons. We could look at the tracks of the lithium, well, helium 3, helium 4, that sort of thing, and lithium 7, helium 4 from the boron breakup. That was fun.
Sopka:Excuse me, was tutorial optional or required for undergraduates at this point?
Bainbridge:Tutorial was required. There was no carrot attached to it. If you had a good student, why, ok, he put some effort into it. But there were no marks on it. There was no — it appealed maybe to some of the better students, but to the other ones it was a bore, and I think it was to some of the faculty, including myself. [laughter] It was not all that great as it sounds to have this intimate relationship with the students. It wasn’t that clear. It’s more difficult, I think, in physics, or math, or chemistry to do tutorial work than it is in history, or English, or poetry, or art or something like that. There the students have the language to some extent. In physics and in math they’re developing it, and it’s tougher to get in then, in something really interesting.
Sopka:I see. It was more important for the Radcliffe girls to have had tutorials available at that time, because they didn’t have all the courses available that Harvard had, and that was the reason that we were given, that tutorial was important for us, that it was a chance to do work that you didn’t have a course in to become equivalent to the Harvard counterparts.
Bainbridge:Well, I remember the Radcliffe students. We would sometimes give the same course. I gave a course called Physics XII, which was Atomic and Nuclear Physics. I gave it here and there was a lab attached to it, and I gave it over there.
Sopka:Oh, all the courses at Radcliffe were also given at Harvard. It’s the converse that wasn’t always true.
Bainbridge:Yes, and sometimes, when I couldn’t do it in Spring, Hudson, working with Professor Duane, did this. It was, I found, sort of deadly giving the same course twice in the same day, and amusing in a way, because I would give it first at Harvard, and it might take me fifty-five minutes. I’d go over to Radcliffe and I would be through in forty minutes [laughter]. Everything was so much better organized [laughter] and at the tip of my tongue! Well, I remember in 1940 — so many things happened. I was Chairman of the Board of Tutors. There were a lot of tutorial meetings over in University Hall, yes, University Hall, and then we were starting a new course, a two-year course for concentrators in physics, and for pre-engineering students, and Professors Street, Furry, Jack Livingood, and I were in charge of this. I was in charge of it the second year, I think. And Curry [Street] or Wendell [Furry] was in charge the first year. And we had to build up laboratories. We wanted new laboratories so it wouldn’t be so deadly for the students to try to get better experiments. I remember I was just one step ahead of the sheriff. I would finish a new experiment, get six copies of it set up and so on, and then have to prepare one for next week, while giving the lectures, and running the tutorials.
Sopka:Was this the sequence of course that were called F and G at that time? Is that what you’re talking about?
Bainbridge:Yes, yes. And I’d been in charge of the first cyclotron construction, and then that was pretty well over by ‘40 and was a growing concern from ‘39 on. And then in ‘40 I’d agreed to give some lectures in Philadelphia at the Wagner Free Science Institute, and I managed to survive until spring vacation and I got awfully sick. [laughter] I waited until I had a week free, and then recovered and went back. I was trying to do too much that year, and people were pouring stuff on me, and I guess that made me a little shy later about saying yes to anything that came along with some new duty to carry out.
Sopka:Would you want to comment a little on the cyclotron activity, because that certainly was a big event in the development of the department.
Bainbridge:Well, Conant came in and wanted to change things around, and I think he was looking to Street and I to change things around, more towards nuclear physics and so on, although Street was in what you might call high-energy particle physics at the time. And Curry and I had discussed this by letter while I was in England, and when I got over here we looked into the Van de Graaff machine, a linear accelerator of the Snell type, which they had been working on in Virginia I think, and a cyclotron, which had been doing so well for Lawrence. And I know Curry and I went to see President Conant and asked, “Supposing we do go for a Van de Graaff machine, where can we put it? A nice place to put it would be Memorial Hall.” [laughter] And Conant said, “Well, this is going to raise hell with the alumni, but if you decide on the cyclotron, I’ll try to help you get it in Memorial Hall.” And we finally, I think, made the wise choice and went for a cyclotron. And Lawrence was a fantastically generous person. This doesn’t come out in this book, Lawrence and Oppenheimer, which was sort of a hatchet job I think on Lawrence to some extent. But Lawrence was generous about it, and he offered to send me drawings of the 37-inch cyclotron they had at Berkeley, which he did. Then, well, we wanted something a little better, and it was just the time, when they were working on bringing the beam out so you could bombard things externally. You could also put a probe in and get much larger currents internally. And so we decided instead of the 37-inch we would go to a 42-inch. And I guess the actual diameter of the poles made it 45, but the diameter of the chamber was 42 inches. And we would bring things out. And we had the help of Livingood, who had been at Berkeley, and had some experience, and Lou Fussell who had been a student at MIT, who had done his doctoral thesis in electrical engineering under Street, a beautiful job on shower formation, where you split up lead plate and each one about a radiation length thick, and you get a multiplication phenomenon of showers according to Oppenheimer-Carlson theory, which was simultaneous at the same time. This was beautiful work. He worked on the oscillator with Hickman, and Street was busy on the mu meson, but he was very helpful in criticizing and commenting and suggesting things. Roger [Hickman] managed to get the power supply, which he had worked on in World War I under John Hays Hammond on Hammond’s project for radio-wireless control of torpedoes. And so this gave us a high voltage power supply. I think it was 20,000 volts and 2 amperes, or something like that, which was about the right power range, but a little high on voltage, for the oscillator for the cyclotron. And then I designed a magnet and built a tenth-scale model, tested that, and then we designed the big thing. In those days the companies were much more interested in helping things at universities than they are today. It didn’t seem so expensive. It didn’t take… Their prime people may not have been doing much anyway and they were glad to help. And then Harvard helped. The people in the Geology Department, [Donald] McLaughlin and others, helped get free copper for us in the form we wanted it. I tried to get a discount from GE in making the coil, and tried to get help from some alumni working on ______ [AuCo??]. Anyhow, the whole thing, I think cost us about $55,000 to make this cyclotron, and the most active people were Hickman, Street, and Fussell, myself, and, later, Livingood, Rubby Sherr who is now at Princeton. Livingood is out at Argonne, and Binks Curtis who is at Michigan. I probably left out some people there. There were about nineteen of us.
Sopka:Now Professor Purcell was one of your graduate students at this point?
Bainbridge:Yes, he was my first graduate student, and he did a very nice job on an automatic method for keeping the cyclotron in tune. It’s a resonance phenomenon, and the oscillator may drift, or the magnetic field may drift, and so it’s nice to have it automatic. And so he arranged a phase-sensitive device which would change the frequency of the oscillator, so that even if the magnetic field drifted, the frequency was right, so it was in resonance and you got the beam out. And I suppose this would be frowned on today. I lived over on Shepard Street — I could turn my radio on—or over on Irving Street, I forget which — I could turn the radio on and turn it to ten megacycles, and really could determine what trouble the boys were having with the cyclotron by the way the frequency wandered around [laughter], when they shut it off, and so on, and whether it arced inside or whether it had drifted off slowly and they gave it abrupt increasing frequency. [laughter] It was not exactly bugging me all the time. Of course, everybody else was probably bothered by the same radiation. Well, this is a very cute scheme, and I thought it was an amusing thing that four leading scientists devised methods of automatic control — four or three. Anyhow, one was Ed Purcell on automatic control, maintaining the resonant condition of the cyclotron. Another one was Street and Johnson; when he was at the Bartol, Curry had an idea for an automatic regulating voltage regulator, which was necessary in counting experiments so you eliminated one source of drift. And another fellow was Alf Nier, A.O.C. Nier, who as a graduate student devised a method for maintaining the constancy of the magnetic field in his mass spectrometer when he was a graduate student at Minnesota. And I’ve often thought this was a good test of a supremely good physicist. [laughter] He invented some way of automatically keeping his apparatus going so that he could go home once in a while. [laughter] Exceptional ability.
Sopka:Do you remember a group called Associates for the Physical Sciences that was organized under Conant’s jurisdiction?
Bainbridge:Well, I remember Associates, and I probably — I don’t have the history right, but it was my idea that there were Associates. It was a similar scheme which was started later, I think, at Caltech. I remember Roger Hickman telling me that there were these people and, to get money for the cyclotron, [he] went after these people to pledge a thousand dollars each towards the cyclotron. And somehow I think we got about $25,000 from the university, and the other $30,000 we raised or begged or borrowed from individuals. But the Associates did contribute to this.
Sopka:I thought it was interesting to note that the ways in which the first cyclotron was funded in contrast to the post-war period when funding came from other sources. The first cyclotron, I believe, was funded entirely on a low profile and by primarily individual contributors with whom the university had some personal connections.
Bainbridge:Well, I’d like to add something to that. At that time in science, and this was true all over this country and abroad until the war, maybe a little before the war, what really was happening was there wasn’t that much money around for such things. This was a huge sum, $55,000. You really took it out of the sweat and hides of the people who were interested in having it. I mean, Street and Hickman and myself and others who went in, and there were nineteen in on this thing finally working with the cyclotron. They spent the time in going to the shop and building these things, and going to the companies and trying to get special dispensations here. I don’t think this stopped until, oh, just ‘30, just about that time at the Cavendish Laboratory, where they’ve always worked on an absolute shoestring. I think Cockcroft was given the job to raise money by Rutherford, and they got a lot of money from one of the big motor manufacturing company heads. Then they went to Phillips and bought Cockcroft-Walton outfits, which were being made commercially at that time. But Lawrence, you see, he got his first magnet by saving a Trans-Pacific oscillator — radio-oscillator-type magnet at that time — from the melting pot just at the last minute, odd-ball shaped — the Federal Telephone and Telegraph Co. had. So he went in and was building the first cyclotron with anything he could scrape up. And it wasn’t until after the war that this was sort of given up and you went to companies. Companies were devised to supply these things, and then gradually… You did all your own circuits. Professor Street, Professor Pound, both supreme in circuit design. They had to be to do their research. Well, then the years go by, you get Techtronics and Hewlett Packard, and all these ways in which you can do these things for a price. The first cyclotron disappeared and went out to Los Alamos.
Sopka:Were you aware of the fact that it was going? Or was this a surprise to you?
Bainbridge:I knew what was up. They never told me, but I know that with all the effort of scientists who were going into war work, we closed the cyclotron down in 1940. I have the old log books, and I’m going to get these to the archives here, if I have some assurance they won’t throw them out. And it’s quite interesting. Every hour, day and night, that people were working on the thing and what happened is quite amusing. Anyhow, I have those old log books, and we closed down, I think, in the summer of ‘40 because things were beginning to pop, and there were some people working on it then: Livingood, and Binks Curtis, and various others there. But people were beginning to drift. The NDRC had been formed that Spring, that June. And then you’ve got Bush, and Conant and Compton, and Schlichter, and Jack Tate, and all these people, Roger Adams, trying to get things going. And they had already been working on this in their minds in Washington for a year or two before that, as you can find out from Bush’s account in Pieces of the Action. Anyhow, they began to recruit people for one thing or another. And I remember that September I got a cable from Cockcroft in Halifax saying he was coming through Boston. I was up in New Hampshire. I came down and saw him for a couple of minutes on the train going to Washington, and I saw him again later and met his group, which was the Tizzard Mission, Sir Henry Tizzard, Cockcroft, Bowen, I think it was “Taffy” Bowen, E.G. Bowen, yes, and a Colonel Wallace, Lt. Col. Wallace, who’d been at Dunkirk and was an authority on anti-aircraft weapons and German plane tactics — Cockcroft and Tizzard, and Bowen, whose main thing at that time was to start work on radar in this country, microwave radar. They actually had a fear that they would be overrun. The Battle of Britain had started. They weren’t sure what the Germans had in mind, and so they put some of their biggest secrets in a box on top of a cruiser and came over with it. [laughter] If the cruiser had been sunk that was the first thing that went overboard was this box containing sample magnetrons. Anyhow, NDRC had an idea of working on radar before they came over, but they had no hint at all of microwave radar. And so when they came by, I saw Cockcroft; he wouldn’t talk to me, of course, about anything in the war effort. But I did meet them, and we all went out to Alfred Loomis’ for an evening, for drinks and supper, and Ernest Lawrence was there at that time.
Sopka:Was that the location of Tuxedo Park?
Bainbridge:No, in Dedham. This was in Dedham.
Sopka:Oh, at that time Loomis had a home here?
Bainbridge:He had a home in Dedham, and a home in Tuxedo Park. And the first thing I know, I was invited by Karl Compton to come down to Washington in early October. Oh, Lawrence came by Harvard late September and asked me to walk around the yard with him. He told me about radar development.
Sopka:Was this 1940?
Bainbridge:Yes, this was 1940. And he told me about radar development. And then a week later Compton called me, and said, “We’re all going down to Washington.” He didn’t tell me what for. “Come down there.” And I said, “Well, I haven’t been cleared.” And he said, “Well, yes you’re cleared.” And at that time, Bush and Compton and Conant simply cleared people saying, “Well, I’ve known this guy for years. I think he’s an honorable, loyal American, so OK, we’re not going to wait six months [laughter] and let [?] the idea to look at his teeth and so on” [laughter]. And so we met down in Washington, and it was fantastic, because we went to the Naval Research Laboratory. They had a working radar there, a very good one. And we could watch the planes come into Boeing Field, and it was good for almost fifty miles. It had a funny sweep in that it had a double sweep in the plane, the little pip would run along like this and drop down and come back, and so it went across twice to get the whole fifty miles in, and then you could look out the window and here was the plane landing.
Sopka:That must have been quite exciting.
Bainbridge:Yes it was, it was terrifically exciting. And that was October. Then the microwave committee met, and this was set up by Bush and Compton, and Loomis was made chairman of that, because he had been working on Doppler radar — continuous, not pulse, radar. And then I remember going to a meeting in Washington after that at which there were people from Sperry, Western Electric, Westinghouse, General Electric — company representatives in on this thing too — and decided that Dubridge would be the chairman of this new laboratory. And then my job — I was still trying to give lectures here — but my job was to try to find a place to start this laboratory. And Compton said, “Well, there must be space at MIT, and if there’s not, we can build more. You go down to MIT and look around and see how much space you can get.” [laughter] So I rattled around there, and we got enough to get started on.
Sopka:Compton was President of MIT at that time, so in a sense he was inviting you rather than sending you.
Bainbridge:Yes, yes. But you know, I looked at the Steam Lab, and looked at places in Building 6, and finally we got a little space in Building 10. And we started up there, and we had about 100 square feet per person at the start.
Sopka:That’s not too much.
Bainbridge:No, it was terrible trying to do anything. And then there was talk of going elsewhere, to Washington, but it was better to be either at Harvard or Tech, or some university where you had shops, and could get going, and could push people around to get space in a nice way, and so this worked out…[incomprehensible mumble]. So that was the beginning of the Radar Laboratory there. In late October, about the first of November, there was a nuclear conference of some sort held at MIT, so this brought people from all over the country for this conference. And a lot of them never went back home [laughter] because they were recruited for the Radiation Laboratory and stayed there, and sent back for their wives and children. They had a crazy idea at the beginning that a few key people from each university would work together there, and take a look at the problem, divide it up, go back to the universities and do it there, but there still would be a little core at MIT which would take the space. Well then, this soon looked ridiculous. It was too big for that, and this would slow things down too much, and you needed the contact of everybody. And so in a matter of a week or two the old scheme was scrapped, and MIT went ahead and recruited people. And I remember trying to find places for people to stay in Boston, and welcoming [I.I.] Rabi, whom I’d met in 1936, coming up and Slater saying, “Well, MIT has a new apartment house along the river, and they’re going to change that into a dormitory and apartments for married students. There’s lots of room over there; take him over there.” Well, I took Rabi there, and it was terrible, because it was just the worst sort of cabbage atmosphere in the corridor, and it was filthy dirty, and so on. It hadn’t been cleaned up or repaired at all. And so I apologized for everything, and said, “Well, you’re going to stay here tonight, but I’ll get you something better tomorrow.” [laughter] And we went over to the Continental Hotel, or the Commander, yes, the Commander was the best we could do, yes, the Commander Hotel. In the Continental, the rooms were smaller, but we got in there. And finally it opened up — they had a housing office, and they managed to get people houses, and then they sent for their wives and children and so on. Most of the people were younger than Rabi and I were, and so generally didn’t have children. But Wheeler Loomis, who was Associate Director of the Lab, in order to make people happy saw that they had decent salaries, and so immediately, there was quite a — in a very few months — a great increase in the number of automobiles, and in another six or eight months there was a great increase in the number of children [laughter] because people could afford children. It was really very amusing.
Sopka:Now, the setting up of the Radiation Lab actually was well under way, if not completed, by the time that Pearl Harbor came around and got us into the War actively.
Bainbridge:Oh, yes. Yes, the organization went ahead very rapidly. And Alfred Loomis had been in England for a trip, and on that trip, he had been, through the NDRC, he had been given three jobs which the — or had been told three things which the English felt were the primary, most important things to be done in radio or radar or electromagnetic war. And one of these things was he wanted a gun directing outfit, which would pinpoint a plane, and the shorter the wavelength the better resolution you could have, and he wanted that. And they had figures on how well their anti-aircraft things had done: instead of 20,000 shells to bring down one airplane, they had gotten to 2,000 to bring down one airplane, but that still wasn’t very impressive. [laughter] This was called a GL3, Gun Lane 3, radar and the one they planned to make using microwaves. And then the night fighter, they were worried, quite naturally, about night bombing. There hadn’t been too much of that in the fall, but then in the winter of ‘40-‘41 they had the Baedeker Raids, I guess, in the day time, and then they came on London at night. And they wanted fighters which, through radar, could control, find the enemy in wartime. And then the third thing was long-range navigation systems, so that the bombing squadrons far from the shores of England could know where they were, and ships at sea, to keep convoys together and so on, could, just by listening to two stations, determine exactly where they were. This, of course, is all through the world now, and it’s pretty good. At the time, I think they were hoping for plus or minus a few miles. But I think it’s better than that now, any place on the earth’s surface. I was selected to be the first one at the technical level for American radar to go over there. In the fall, Bush and Conant had decided that someone ought to go over there and set up an office with the NDRC in London. And in Conant’s book he has a chapter on this, and it’s really quite amusing. I saw him over there, because he went over and started this thing in, I think, February with Carroll Wilson, who had been with Bush and Compton, and Fred Hovde, who was later president of Purdue, and I think was connected with Rochester University at that time. Anyhow, Fred Hovde, Carroll Wilson, and Conant started this office over there, and when I was over there I did have dinner a couple of times with Conant at the Grosvenor Square Hotel, or Grosvenor House, where we were staying.
Sopka:And at the time, may I just interrupt to ask whether people like Conant, Bush, and yourself, were you convinced that the United States would become actively involved? Was this activity thought of as a preparation for the American future, or as assistance to the people that we were sympathetic to in Europe, in the hope that, by helping them that…
Bainbridge:I don’t know — of course this was Churchill and Roosevelt, and certainly the idea was that you couldn’t let England be overrun. If England was overrun, we were next, so don’t wait until England’s overrun; do what you can now. And this, of course, would be entirely illegal unless there was some vote of Congress to allow the exchange of information, classified information, at that time. And this was gotten through by Bush working, presenting the facts to Roosevelt and Hopkins, and Roosevelt and Hopkins working on through their pals in Congress, and so this went through, that you could do this, which was unique. You could exchange vital information, even though you were not at war with Germany. And so this saved an enormous amount of time. And I remember when I was over there in the spring of ‘41, I went over in the latter part of March and April, all of April, I went to a meeting in which the British RAF heads were there, Portal and the big shots of the time, and Harriman who was, I don’t know whether he was ambassador or whether he was there just as a special agent for Roosevelt, discussing what it would mean to get the same radio sets and everything in American or British planes. They were all going to be one — now this was almost nine months before we were in the war — and how this would save time and effort, and simplify manufacturing, and replacement of stuff, and so on. And the thing that shocked me at the time was somebody, a British representative, said that in order to supply just the planes which you, the United States, are building for us with radar and identification systems and radio systems would take the entire output of the Radio Corporation of America and they couldn’t make anything else! I thought, my God, this is some idea of the magnitude of what was involved. Let’s see, where were we? Well, the cooperation between the British and Americans was very close, and they sent people over to this side, including R.H. Fowler, who was Rutherford’s son-in-law, a famous theoretical physicist, [Charles Galton] Darwin, who was a famous British theoretical Physicist, to get things for Britain. And of course there was the Lend-Lease thing in the spring of ‘41 and the destroyers and bases for the United States and so on. And I remember when I went over on a terrible boat, it was the Export Line, the SS Siboney which the American Export Line had leased from the Cuban Mail and Steamship Line to get refugees out of Portugal and to get Americans over to Portugal. They leased this boat, and I remember a day out of Bermuda, it was very nice to see a PBY with an American insignia on it fly around and around our boat, because it was just at the time when the Lease-Lend thing had been signed. And a doctor on board this boat who was I’m sure the most depraved character in the world, a German doctor, and he was very upset. I had to go down there to get a small pox vaccination, which I had missed and needed before I could land in Portugal and go to England, and that was very disagreeable — that guy. And there were only twenty-four passengers on the boat going over, and there were three of us, Warren Weaver, Ed Poitras, and myself from the NDRC. There was a young fellow from the embassy who was going to the American embassy in England. And there was the young Bjoerling of the Metropolitan Opera going over with an entourage with three or four girl friends and three or four managers and treasurers and what have you. [laughs]
Sopka:It must have been interesting.
Bainbridge:And then there was a fellow E Phillips Oppenheim who stayed out with a dispatch case on a chain to his wrist. So we had the ship to ourselves practically, and the machines and the saloon. Bjoerling and his party would stay up late at night, and I remember with great amusement one morning they came down about noon, and there had been a fight. Someone had creamed him during the night with a baseball bat. [laughter] He had a big patch of adhesive plaster on his head. And he had a terrible time when we landed in Bermuda, because they just took the place apart, except for people on State Department passports, as was the case with Weaver and Poitras and myself. We were allowed to run around the island all day and had a wonderful time, but the other people, they just went through their luggage, their clothing, everything they had because some of them were going to Germany. I think Bjoerling, was actually going through Germany to get to Sweden, and they didn’t want to play with them carrying anything over to the enemy.
Sopka:The ship was flying under an American flag. Is that right?
Bainbridge:Yes, it was flying under an American flag. Well, it had been an American line anyway. The Cuban Mail and Steamship Line was an American line, you know, the Andrea Doria line.
Sopka:Oh, I see. I didn’t know.
Bainbridge:So the American Export Line was doing all they could to get people out of Portugal, and the other people who were doing it were lines which went to Mexico where the Portuguese and refugees from other countries fleeing Portugal went to Mexico. And they were worried in Portugal that they might be overrun, and I know when we were there, we heard from a fellow who was in the American Export Lines that the Germans had shown their movies of the invasion of Poland to some of the Polish [Portuguese?] politicians, which normally had been a step to say, “Well, here, it’s no good standing up against us, because here’s what we can do,” just to soften them up before there might be some military action. Well, anyhow, the cooperation was very close between Britain and the United States, and after I was over there, others went over, and finally they built a laboratory over there, and Street was over there, and Preston was over there. And Norman Ramsey followed me over. He was the next one after I was there. Sam Goudsmit was… no, Sam went over on the ALSOS mission. And then they sent people who worked at the Radiation Laboratory such as Dennis Robinson who was the president of High Voltage Engineering. And this went on throughout the War, and then they finally went to France with units, and they had field units to convert sets for some new application, at the last minute to put in some trick and so on, and it was a very successful cooperation. And the fellow who did a lot of this work in England, organizing it and so on, was Cockcroft who had seen the development of the ground-controlled interception stations which would give you a plan position indication of where all the German planes were and you could send up British planes to shoot them down, and that sort of thing. And he put up the radars along the British coast which could pick up the low-flying planes. Previously they could only pick up the high-flying planes. And Cockcroft, a great deal fell on him. Well, I’d heard about a project in the West. It was known as Shangri La. No one ever mentioned bombs or uranium or anything like that, and this Shangri La was a beautiful place out in the West. And sometime around ‘41 or ‘42, Ed McMillan came to the laboratory and wanted to see the cyclotron, and I was told about this. Actually, of course, this meant that the Manhattan District wanted the cyclotron, and they were sending one of the leading cyclotron fellows, Ed McMillan, around to look at different ones and see which one they might pick up, and how did they work, and so on. And so, the fellows who had closed it down opened it up again, got it going, gave a demonstration, showed the log books to McMillan and so on, so he had a pretty good idea that it worked fairly well, and it had enough current and high enough voltage, and was in shape where it could be used. And so, I think, this, of course, had Conant in there too. He knew that I couldn’t stand up and say, “No, you can’t have it.” [laughter] And so the cyclotron finally was boxed up and shipped out there. And then, there was this amusing thing. We had a reel of lead-covered wire which we were particularly fond of because we could just lay it on the ground and it was protected against moisture, and they wanted that too, and we said, “Well, if you don’t need it, for gosh sakes, send it back. It’s vital in this location to use it.” And sure enough, time went on, and we were told the cyclotron was going out to the Saint Louis Engineering, or St. Louis Hospital, or something like that, Medical Center. Well, we got this roll of wire back from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and so [laughing] we knew something was fishy. But, well finally, Bob Bacher came up to me in the spring of 1943, and said, “How about coming down to Washington in early May? Oppenheimer wants to talk to you.” And he said, “I’m going down.” So we went down to Washington, and Oppenheimer met us at the National Academy of Sciences. And again, you walk around outside where you won’t be overheard and he told me about the project, and he said, “Think it over,” and invited me out. And I guess the time to come out was July, over the fourth. There was some meeting and Hans Bethe and Fermi, Oppie, Bacher, and some others were going to be there. Bacher spoke to me and I wanted to go out there. You know, the radar business, the government had about every type that they needed, and there were some fancy ones coming along which Alvarez had thought up which were ready finally for the final push, the invasion. But beyond that, it was through, and here was something where if you could get there first, why you were going to be out of trouble. I remember climbing up a local mountain there, Valle Grande, with a storm, and hail stones, and you didn’t want to get under some 200 foot or 150 foot Ponderosa Pine, because of the lightning [laughter]. And you didn’t want to stand out in the open because of the hail stones. We did find a little, not a cave, but a big rock to stand under. And I said I’d come out there, and then I had to close up things at the lab, and hand over my work. The gum shoes came around and asked neighbors. They went twice to the Rabis and they asked who this guy Bainbridge is, “Do you know where he’s going?” and “He’s leaving, I hear. Do you know where he’s going?” — partly to check them, and partly to see if I had talked at all. Of course, this attracted attention. I had a lot of things going on at the lab, and saw a lot of people in the Army and Navy in Washington and sets we were building, and then you suddenly disappear. Well, I don’t know. And so I went out there, leaving the family behind, because there was no place for them to stay, and finally we did get a place to stay in September, I guess, late August they came out.
Sopka:That would have been what year then?
Bainbridge:1943. When I first arrived in Los Alamos there weren’t very many people there, but it was quite clear in Oppenheimer’s mind that the original plan of having a hundred people or so was ridiculous. It would take a much bigger show than that. And so very soon I, among others, was recruiting people from other projects. This was not easy to do, because the people working elsewhere had entered that particular work because they wanted to do something for the country. They believed in what they were doing. And we were not allowed to say what we were doing, and this was made quite clear by the personnel manager that you could just say the important war project was going on up there, and if you joined you wouldn’t regret it, and so on. You couldn’t say what we hoped to do was find out whether or not an atomic weapon can be made. So I found in all the recruiting I did that no one ever turned me down. They all came. Even though this meant in the case of Fussell, for example, who was an enormously valuable out there; Lou Fussell was head of a considerable project. Well, I did try to get Bright Wilson, but Conant said, “No, you can’t get Bright Wilson, but you can get somebody else there, one of his lieutenants or something.” And, so when I talked to Bright Wilson and he’d been approached, I guess, by Conant because Don Hornig came out. We needed someone who had been doing some underwater work with explosives, because this was part of the agenda to try to figure out from model experiments what would happen if one of these things went off in a harbor such as Bremen or New York or Southampton, what it would do to the harbor, to the shipping, and to the people. And so Hornig was recruited on that basis, and I got a young fellow from Washington who was keen on radar work, because DuBridge set up a limit pretty quickly on a number of people who would go from Radiation Lab, because McMillan, Alvarez, Bacher, Willie Higginbotham, myself, a gentleman who was head of the nuclear lab at Cornell, and a lot of other people had disappeared. And he finally said “Nix! You recruit people someplace else — I’ve had it.”
Sopka:You mentioned before that they had thought of the Radiation Lab as being organized as a small corps with projects in various universities, but that idea was abandoned. In contrast, the Manhattan Project was very much organized on multiple-site basis, wasn’t it, with very strict secrecy among them.
Bainbridge:This was the military idea of how to achieve security, that as few people as possible know the whole story. And the cheapest way of doing that is to segregate people in different phases of the project, and don’t let people talk to each other. Now this is quite opposite to what any physicist or scientist believes, that if you really want to make progress, let the people get together, talk, interact, exchange ideas, argue things out, and so on, and you’ll get there a lot faster. Well, this, of course, was the basis on which Oppenheimer ran Los Alamos. We had a Monday afternoon meeting of people with responsible jobs. This meant maybe 100-125 people: the Division Heads, Group Heads, leading individual workers, probably all of the theorists, particularly a young fellow like Feynman, just a kid, but extremely vital to the whole thing. And then there were night meetings, where more people were allowed in, individuals in particular groups and divisions. And then there was a Tuesday or Wednesday night thing, which was called the Governing Board, which was only eight or nine people finally. And I didn’t reach that level until September of ‘44. I had been working on getting a site and preparing for the test really starting in sometime that spring of ‘44, I guess around March ‘44. We’d located the site finally by September of ‘44, and then it was time to build a camp there, and build roads, and prepare the groundwork, and put in the wires and everything else for the test. And so sometime — this was — Oppenheimer was naturally head of it. Cyril Smith for metallurgy, Hans Bethe for theory, Kistiakowsky for explosives, Bacher for Physics, and myself for the test, and there were some others. But these were the sort of division head people. And so you had three — but everyone pretty much knew everything. I know at one time Oppenheimer wanted me to go around and visit Oak Ridge, Hanford, Chicago, Cornell, any place which was working on this project, and Manley, Teller, and I were meant to be sort of a committee of three. We were meant to go around and learn everything. Well this was impossible because you also had six jobs here. So I never went out. I think Manley may have gone out on one or two carefully defined missions by Oppenheimer. Teller wanted to be on this group, but I don’t think Oppenheimer particularly wanted him to be. They didn’t get along too well, because as you know, Teller was not much of a team player in this thing. He didn’t — well, I won’t go into that, but it’s in print.
Sopka:Yes, a lot has been written about those personalities.
Bainbridge:And I was in on — I don’t know, it was much more, I guess peripatetic is the word (I hope I know what it means), than the Radiation Laboratory, because Oppenheimer would change his mind quickly. One week you’d be doing something, and the next week, by golly, you’d be off in another direction. I got hell for a while; I was with Serber on the water boiler and then for a while I had to do electronics, get set up for doing the tests for the Hiroshima type bomb out at a mesa. Well, when this was set up, it is interesting. If you look at the letter which Conant and Groves sent to Oppenheimer asking him to head up this project, it’s very, very interesting, because it shows that Conant and Groves had the idea in their minds which was first presented by Eddington about 1920, in which Eddington, considering atomic energy, considered the chance of a run-away reaction which, in 1921 or 22, Aston took over and looked at it again. And that on the basis of their sort of prediction of what might happen, they wanted this thing in a remote spot. They wanted it under military command. Now, the people who were going to be recruited would come there and would learn what it was about, and if they didn’t want to go into uniform by January 1, 1944, they would be allowed to leave. I never believed that. I never believed that for a minute. But I know that those people who had been at the Radiation Laboratory knew how difficult the military were to get along with if you were in the chain of command. If you were on an equal basis as a civilian, they were lovely people to get along with, and liked criticism, and advice. They lapped it up. But if you were in the chain of command you couldn’t do a damn thing. So the idea of having some Brigadier General, who was head of the whole thing, Groves, with some sort of a full Colonel in charge of the site, with Oppenheimer, say, as a Lieutenant Colonel, and the rest of us in uniform, was hopeless. Of course, Dubridge, Rabi, and Bob Wilson, everybody who could get at Oppenheimer, including Alvarez, worked on Oppenheimer and said “This just won’t go. Forget it. It cannot be a military camp.” Now there were very few people who left at any time. I think they would let them go, because they could arrest them or shoot them if they talked too much. But I feel that General Groves had this in his mind from the very beginning that this thing might run away. And Conant went along with this. And the reason I say that is when Groves was talking about the test, he said that he went to the base camp, and General Thomas Farrell stayed at the South 10,000 observation point, because in any situation of danger we’d arranged that we’d do this so they wouldn’t both get blown up at once. And he had this on his mind. In his book there are sentences there that show that they weren’t quite sure that these crazy physicists knew what the hell they were talking about when they said this thing would go so far and then quit. And this was reexamined by Konopinski and Bethe in the spring of ‘45, quite late in the spring, and they were worried that Eddington and Aston had maybe under the energies, pressures, conditions, there might be a runaway reaction involving hydrogen, nitrogen, or something like that. So this was there. This explains, I think, why they wanted people in uniform why they had a chance to get out before they really got into the heart of the matter.
Sopka:It’s an interesting development in the way that the relations evolved in contrast to during World War I. Apparently, most of the people, the physicists who were cooperating with the World War I effort were in uniform, like Theodore Lyman who was actually commissioned before he went. Of course, he was in a completely different kind of operation. It wasn’t these laboratories as it was in WW II, but the thinking of how the civilian physicists should help the war effort evolved.
Bainbridge:Yes, of course in World War II, the Radiation Lab members who had business in the combat zone, went in uniform, but they had assumed a simulated rank. Here’s Street, John Trump, Lee DuBridge, Bill Preston, all in uniform and so on. No bars or stripes or anything. They had a simulated rank, and they’d haul out a card saying, “I’m a Lieutenant Colonel,” or “I’m a General,” and this gets them on airplanes, military airplanes, and allows them to eat in messes, and it allows them to get through the sentries to see the head man, and that sort of thing. They solved it quite differently.
Sopka:Oh, I see. That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard about that.
Bainbridge:The ordinary chain of command was hopeless. In the Navy it was pretty good. I have a lot of admiration for the Navy, because here were young men, lieutenant commanders who had tremendous responsibility, and could make decisions and spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and they generally did it very well. While in the Army, if you wanted to get a new radar through, you started down with a lieutenant or captain, and he passed it on, up, up, up, each guy in turn diddling it, until it got up to the head man in the Pentagon, and he sent it back down on the chain of command until by the time it got back, six months had gone by and the thing couldn’t be recognized, and they didn’t get it. And finally, they got wise, and they finally got things by saying, “Well, I like that air interception radar the Navy has. How about asking Philco to make 500 more for us?” And they got them. And they didn’t diddle it this time. [laughter]
Sopka:Well, I guess then that you stayed at Los Alamos until the cessation of hostilities, and then for a little while afterward winding things up before coming back to Harvard.
Bainbridge:Yes. The job of the test was to see what was going on inside the thing, and, if anything went wrong, what went wrong. So there were lots and lots of experiments, and everybody had a chance to toss some in. Fermi was free in the fall [spring?] of ‘45 to devise new nuclear things, and there were a tremendous number of experiments. One of the better ones was a combination of Purcell, Rossi, and Bob Wilson; they had one for measuring the time between the initiation of the implosion and the growth of the neutrons and fission, you know, how many microseconds, if it’s microseconds, does it take to do this. And that was quite a tricky experiment. And there were lots and lots of experiments, and lots of duplication, and some didn’t work for one reason or another. One thing which always impressed me was some of these things where people were looking for gamma rays or light intensity as a function of time, that sort of thing. You had lead “houses,” excavated land and put in lead bricks, thick enough to stand your prediction of what the radiation values would be, and the equipment put in there and everything was sealed over. Well, after the test you couldn’t look at these things for months because the ground was so radioactive but finally, when you got there and opened these things up — this worries me about shelters like subways, if people in a nuclear war should be in some place like that — the hot gases loaded with radioactivity just went in through the tiniest crack, got in there and cooled, left the radioactivity, so everything inside was cooked with radioactivity. And the same thing would happen in any shelter or any hardened missile site, or anything else. If the stuff can get in, it will get in. Well, that wasn’t a very pleasant note.
Sopka:No, but it’s a realistic one, I’m afraid.
Bainbridge:Well, after this thing was over on July 16th, I stayed on for about a week at the camp because Williams and I had to clean up things. We didn’t come back till oh, early sometime, August. I have the pass I got to go in there from Captain Bush. And we went in to recover equipment. Then I didn’t get back again until September when Groves had a bunch of newspaper men come down there to see the place, because there had been newspaper accounts after Hiroshima that the radioactivity on the ground killed a great many people, and we wanted to show — which, in fact, was not true, it wasn’t radioactivity, it was just people got killed by neutrons, by blast, and by light and the radioactivity never hit the ground — just to show the radioactivity at the site there, where the thing had only been 100 feet up in the air, was not all that much. And then I had to write a report on this, plus all the group leaders, and so that report took until November. That report has now come out. They’ve left out a lot of stuff, but still. And they say that I — they had the stuff I wrote, but they also say I was editor, which isn’t true, because I left early. I left about November 20th. Dave English, who was out at the University of Massachusetts, edited the thing. He stayed on for years, so I — A lot of people hadn’t gotten their section in by that time, so I said “hell with it.” Lawrence asked me to come to Berkeley, so I went to Berkeley and saw the big synchrocyclotron and the betatron and the synchrotron and that sort of thing going on there, and then came back here in January, 1946.
Sopka:What did happen to the first cyclotron, the one that was sent to Los Alamos? It was not brought back to Cambridge.
Bainbridge:The first cyclotron went to Los Alamos, and was hauled up the hill along with the Wisconsin Van de Graaff, and Illinois betatron, and all these other things went up the hill. And it’s quite amusing that no one was meant to know what these things were, but in order to get good mechanics for the place, they got the instrument makers from different universities throughout around the country. All of these fellows worked on these things. They knew right away something funny was going on. I mean, security gets beaten so easily in so many ways. The mechanics knew exactly it was going to be something about nuclear physics. Well, that cyclotron, Bob Wilson agreed to come to Harvard, and I was very happy that I’d helped recruit him to come to Harvard, because everybody had been after him: the University of Chicago, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, all over the place, Cornell, all over the place they wanted Bob Wilson, and we were lucky enough to get him. This is something I want to talk about later that I take pride in the people I’ve brought to Harvard at one time or another. I feel I’ve contributed something. Well, Bob did agree to come here, and so we talked about what we were going to do. Shall we bring back the Harvard cyclotron and do physics with it, or shall we try and get something bigger and better? Well, our first reaction was OK, we’ll get the Harvard cyclotron back, and Bob signed up the crew who had been working for him. He’d been in charge of it out there. The crew that had been working for him was a nice bunch of young men, some physicists, some working as mechanics, untrained academically but very clever at running the machine. And then we sort of thought about it, and decided, well, this thing is really getting pretty old; it’s six, seven years old. And every time you go to a higher energy something new happens, so maybe we’d better go to a higher energy. So then we came back here to Harvard and we talked to Curry and the department head. We talked to Earnest Lawrence, and he said, “Well, I think you’re right that you ought to get a bigger one.” And I said, “Well, we don’t have any money.” He said, “Well, I’ll see what I can do. They need that machine, Harvard machine at Los Alamos, and I think you ought” (and this was typical Lawrence) “to get half a million or a million dollars for it, and with that you can build a nice one.” We said, “Fine, but how are we going to do this?” It turned out that I guess we finally agreed that it would be better to have a higher energy one, and Wilson and I would work on it. And we designed a building, and started to design a new machine, and Lawrence said he would help us and gave one of his design men to work in Berkeley. And Bob wanted to stay in Berkeley anyway to do some proton scattering, and so Bob would stay there and work on the design for the chamber, and I would stay here and work on the design of the building and the magnet and the auxiliary stuff. And so he was signed up and agreed to come to Harvard, but he had to first turn off working out there. And then Lawrence got Bob Thornton and General Nichols, and somebody else, a committee of three, to put a price on the Harvard cyclotron, and the price put on it was, I think, $250,000. Lawrence thought it was a steal, and in a sense, it was true. It was worth all of that. But anyhow, we got $250,000, and then talking with Conant and so on and the Office of Naval Research, we got the money from the Office of Naval Research to build the big one, which is still over there, and the building. I guess Harvard had to put the money into the building. The $250,000, though, we used partly for the building there, partly to get nuclear physics started in the medical school, and partly for something in this department.
Sopka:I see. Well, it was good seed money, anyway, for whatever else you did.
Bainbridge:Yes, and then we had money from the Navy for the machine. Yes. Well, Harvard had done very well on the seed money idea, because they had Conant who had done a very bright thing, I thought. At first Conant wanted to pay the salaries of everyone who was in the war. He was going to give these men to the United States Government. Harvard would pay for them. Well, I think the Corporation said, “Mr. Conant, you’re a bright boy, but you’re crazy this time.” [laughter] And he let the government hire the people and let them pay it. Well, then Harvard said if you had some job in the government which didn’t pay your full Harvard salary, they would supplement it to bring it up 80% of your Harvard salary. But the thing I thought was so bright was that the salary of Street and Purcell and all these people, Kistiakowsky, Bright Wilson, and Baird Hastings, anybody, regardless where they were in Harvard, was put into a kitty. The corporation took this money which would have gone to us, because they didn’t have to pay to us, because we were employed elsewhere, and put it into a kitty, I hope at 5 1/2 percent interest or something, as not exactly seed money, but as rehabilitation money. So once the war was over and the boys got back, they would have enough money to get going in research in a reasonable time. And this was I thought…
Sopka:It sounds like a very wise…
Very good, yes.
Session I | Session II